Early Labor began on Saturday Dec 17 in the late morning. After a whole day of contractions, things died down in the evening.
I had a massage on Tuesday and my therapist taught me some acupressure points to induce labor. During the massage I had a psychic moment with my child. I could feel him thinking and prepare himself for something big. Almost as if he was saying, “I’m ready!”
Early labor began again on Wednesday December 21. We spent the day getting our Christmas gifts ready, walking, and dancing to Van Morrison. Thursday, the Winter Solstice! My contractions were still happening regularly, although spaced far apart. Jacob and I got up early that morning; we knew Barry was coming soon! A fire was lit in the fireplace, we went out to welcome the Sun, and spent the day napping and enjoying each other’s company. We took a walk and climbed the biggest hills in the neighborhood. Contractions began to get more intense and closer together.
8:00pm Dec. 22
That night, Jacob read a book out loud to help me take my mind off the contractions, but it wasn’t working. He called the Midwives and our Doula and told them I was close to active labor. We went to bed and tried to sleep. A few hours later, I had a pretty huge contraction and felt something burst behind my cervix; it felt like a small warm water balloon. Jacob called everyone again.
11:00pm Dec 22
My Doula asked if I needed anything. “Oranges!” I exclaimed. She arrived just in time. I was beginning to feel really out of control and unable to manage the pain. The Doula showed Jacob where to press on my lower back, reminded me to keep my voice low in my abdomen, and started putting cold washcloths on my neck.
… I had forgotten about the oranges.
12:00am Dec 23
When the Midwives arrived, I was already feeling the urge to push. I was soothed by the calm attitude everyone brought to the room. No one was rushing, and everyone was being quiet and helpful. They asked if I wanted them to check my dilation, but I wasn’t in the mood to stay in one position for that long, let alone lay on my back for a contraction. A few hours into it, my water broke with a big gush. I guess the first burst was just a leak? By this point, I tuned everything out, with the exception of helpful advice. I spent a lot of time pushing on the toilet and on the birthing chair.
My birth team kept saying “good job!”, and “that’s it!” This gave me the impression he was crowning, but when I reached down to feel him and discovered his head was still way up there, I got a little discouraged. I kept pushing, but was getting tired. I started to fall asleep between my contractions.
My Doula spoon-fed me some honey, and I eagerly took it. That was the energy boost I needed to continue to give strong pushes. Finally, the baby started crowning. I was glad to start feeling what everyone calls “the ring of fire”. It hurt like hell, but at least I knew he was almost here. Jacob took a peek and saw his head coming out. The enthusiasm and emotion in Jacob's voice when he told me Barry had hair was another energy boost to bring Barry into the world. I was pushing on the birthing chair and began to say “Yes!” The positivity made everything more bearable.
4:43am Dec. 23
After several long minutes, Barry’s head came out, along with his tiny fist pressed against his temple. After his shoulders, I thought the rest of him would just slide right out, but I had to keep pushing him all the way. When he came out, I was helped onto the bed and Barry was set onto my chest. He kept sliding up to my chin and all I could do was laugh as he found a comfortable position to rest his head. He was grunting and lifting his head to look around. I was so happy that the end result of all that work was lying on my chest and we were both alive and healthy!
The placenta came out with a few more light pushes. It felt warm and oozy as it came out and it was such a relief; labor was over. I lost a lot of blood, so I was asked to hold off on nursing for a bit while I got my strength back. I had an orange and more spoonfuls of honey. A frozen Shakespeare’s pizza was put in the oven, and I had some of that too. When I could sit up without feeling dizzy, I was helped into a warm bath to clean up. Jacob got to bond with Barry, while I ate more pizza in the tub.
I came back to bed and the midwives measured and weighed Barry. He was 10lb. 22” long! I nursed him for the first time and he latched on like a pro! The next goal was for me to pee, I hadn’t done that since active labor began. Not peeing was frustrating, they tried to catheterize me, but I was too swollen, they couldn’t find my pee hole! After nursing, I was helped back to the tub and took a fresh bath. I tinkled a little on the toilet, it was more like a dribble, but it was something!
10:20am Dec. 23
When the Midwives were confident that I was all right, they cleaned up and left us to rest and marvel at our perfect baby.
It was an incredible experience; my birth team was amazing! When it really started getting heavy, my instincts turned off my thinking brain and I went with what felt right. When I was entering active labor, if I would have had a nice nurse put their hand on my shoulder and gently say “Would you like some drugs dear?”, I probably would have caved and said yes. But since I didn’t have a choice, my endorphins kicked in and I forgot about anything other than the task at hand.
Barry only lost 6 ounces and was 6 ounces over his birth weight when the midwives weighed him on their 4 day visit. What a chunk!